GSD Touch-Up Paint Guide

GSD Touch-Up Paint Guide

Last Updated On: May 6, 2019

OUR BICYCLES ARE MEANT TO BE USED, and when bikes are used, they eventually get some paint damage. Whether it’s gradual rubbing from cables, sudden chips from rocks, or scratches from a bike rack, the underlying surface of your bicycle frame can become exposed to the elements. When this occurs there are two options:


A little missing paint won’t hurt your bike unless it is frequently exposed to conditions that would accelerate oxidation, like living next to the ocean or riding through salted winter roads. If you’re the type to shrug such things off, then no need to read further. Display your wear marks with pride!


For many, however, when damage occurs to their beloved bike they naturally want to repair it. This can be purely to stop any further damage from occurring or purely from an aesthetics point of view. More commonly, it’s a mixture of the two. If this sounds like you, then please read on.


Before buying any paint, evaluate your priorities. Are you purely interested in surface protection? If so, then your job is easy, since you can purchase whatever you’d like in terms of color and finish. A clear gloss varnish will do the job as well as a satin neon yellow. You can skip our color chart and go with whatever is most convenient.

Or is it important to have your repair job blend in? In this case you’ll need to try to match the color and finish of the original paint as closely as possible. Fortunately, you’ll still get all the same protection, but with the added benefit of aesthetic satisfaction. We’ve created a chart of commonly available paints that are relatively close matches to the paints on each of our bike models, which is a good starting point towards a more subtle touch up job.


Some of our recommended paints match more closely than others, but none of them are perfect. Our aim is to help get you in the right ballpark. If you are more demanding of an exact match to your frame paint, then we suggest exploring some alternatives.

One idea is having a local auto painter (or other paint supplier) mix up a batch of custom matched paint. Many of these professionals have tools for accurately matching colors, textures, and surface finishes.

Another idea is trying alternative paint types such as nail polish. These come in a wide variety of colors and finishes, and are intended to be hard wearing, especially with the addition of a varnish layer.

Yet another idea is to mix multiple colors to get the perfect match. This can be done with the paint types we list in our chart, or with other paints such as nail polish. You can also add metallic textures and surface finishes into the mix directly or via a varnish layer.


We recommend enamel paints as these tend to be hard wearing, durable paints that, when applied properly, can form a very smooth surface that transitions well into the surrounding paint.

We also recommend brushing on paints from tins/bottles or using paint pens. Sprays can be difficult to control where the paint ends up and getting paint overspray on your brake pads would be less than awesome.


  • Remove any loose or flaking paint.
  • Use some fine grit sandpaper or emery cloth to smooth out the transition between the raised paint and the effected metal surface.
  • Clean the area to remove any remaining dirt, dust, grease, and oils.
  • Apply the paint, making sure to follow the instructions provided by the paint supplier.


  • Multiple light coats look better and last longer than one heavy coat.
  • Applying an additional varnish will help protect the paint and allow you to adjust the level of gloss.
  • For best results, apply a layer of primer before the base paint and employ wet sanding between all coats of primer, paint, and varnish.
  • Test the paint on some scrap aluminum before applying to your frame.


The final step after patching up your paint is to determine if this was an isolated incident such as a random rock chip, or a reoccurring issue such as a pannier rubbing against the tube. If it is the latter, then in addition to addressing the painted surface, you’ll need to address the root cause to keep it from continuing.

For example: Your cables are rubbing away paint in one spot on your fork. After repairing the damaged paint section, consider taking preventative measures such as adding a protective film layer or even wrapping an old inner tube around the area. Alternatively you could see if it is possible to affix the cables in a way that they no longer rub on anything.

No sense in fixing the paint if your work will be undone after a couple of rides!


We have created a color chart that includes three possible sources for paint—two model paint suppliers, and the RAL color matching system. Hopefully between the three options, there is at least one sources of touch-up paint available in your local market.

Our color chart includes the following information:

  • Frame paint color by bicycle platform
  • Surface finish of the paint
  • RAL color code
  • Humbrol enamel paint code
  • Testors enamel paint code


RAL is a widely used paint color matching system. Many paint suppliers offer products referencing RAL color codes. We recommend ordering an enamel touch-up paint in a bottle/tin or paint pen.


The numbers listed correspond to Humbrol enamel model paints.


Testors offers their own brand of enamel model paints, as well as their “Model Master” line of enamel model paints. The numbers in the chart refer to the Testors line unless they are followed by “(MM)”, in which case they reference the Model Master line.


None of the paints listed in the chart will provide an exact match (except by happy accident).

However, we’ve tried to supply an idea of how well each of the options will match the frame color.

GREEN numbers indicate a close match

ORANGE numbers indicate a mediocre match

RED numbers indicate a poor match